How to Eat Vegan on A Norwegian Cruise Ship

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If you’re gearing up for a cruise ship vacation, or even just toying with the idea, you’re probably thinking “There’s no way I can eat vegan on an all-you-can-eat cruise extravaganza.” And while that may be true, you can most definitely eat vegan when sober. Here’s how I did it:

1. These ships are typically equipped with about 20+ restaurants. Seek out the ethnic ones like Japanese (ours had its very own version of a knife-tossing, action-packed Benihana), Chinese and Indian (and at the buffets, steer clear of the never-ending options of carved meats and look for the abundance of international stations). Even the Italian spots should be able to dole out a simple pasta with veggies and olive oil or pasta with tomato sauce and freshly cracked black pepper.

Dinner at Benihana-knockoff:photo (2)

 Makeshift-dinner plate round two created from some international buffet stations like Indian and Japanese:photo 5

2. Explore the high seas in comfort by raiding the breakfast buffet for mini boxes of vegan-friendly cereal and fruit. Snack on them throughout the day to keep you fueled between meals.  Craving a bagel for breakfast? I regret to inform you, tofu cream cheese won’t be on any of the 29389283 decks. Instead DIY a boring bagel with the friendly help of a toaster, capers, onions, tomatoes, olive oil and vinegar and whatever other vegan-friendly options your heart desires.

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3. Just ask! You’ve spent lord knows how much money to be there (and don’t forget that $12 service fee per day per person. Thanks for the heads up, guys) so don’t be shy about speaking up to your waiter. See an eggplant dish on the dinner menu that looks intriguing but is doused in mozzarella? See if they can make you a special version sans cheese. See a salad that looks delectable but is topped off with slivers of tuna? Just ask if they can leave off the fish from yours.

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4. Anchors and…condiments away! Befriend toppings and sauces. Seriously. With the help of sriracha and toppings from the grill station like caramelized onions, mushrooms and horseradish, you can turn any blah meal into something quite tasty.  Yes, sometimes you have to think a bit creatively to make a full vegan meal in the main dining hall but its totally doable. At buffet style meals, I often utilized various stations to make a meal come together that otherwise wouldn’t stand on its own (i.e., for the pasta pictured below, I got ziti with tomato sauce, onions and mushrooms from the pasta area, and then headed over to the salad bar for flavor-boosters like olives and peppers and protein doses from chickpeas and peas. Then over to the pizza bar for red chile pepper flakes. Done!)

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5. Don’t get drunk and raid the soft serve machine. You’ll thank me later. But don’t worry about getting drunk and bingeing on veggie burgers loaded with guacamole, horseradish, jalapenos, spicy mustard, onions and waffle fries. It’ll make those $9 Dirty Shirley’s (it’s a thing! I thought I brilliantly reinvented this childhood favorite into a booze-infused libation myself but alcoholic Shirley Temples are a thing, who knew?!)

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